When we start naming the greatest coaches of all time, we have to include Lombardi, Wooden, Durocher, and Auerbach. They were masters of the gridiron, the diamond, and the hardcourt, guiding their charges to numerous championships.
My pick for greatest coach, however, never won a ring, never diagramed a play, and was never carried off the field in victory. To my knowledge, she never blew a whistle, couldn’t teach a curveball or a jump shot, and definitely never cursed in my presence. Yet she was the epitome of a coach: part encourager, part disciplinarian, and always a motivator.
Mom never missed a game. Whether it was a cold drizzly April baseball game or a treacherous snowy drive in January for basketball, she was always there. She endured inning upon inning and quarter upon quarter watching from aluminum stands and hard wooden bleachers. And I was no star, or often even a starter. Mom was there nonetheless, waiting for that moment when I got in the game.
She cheered the home runs and swishes which were few and far between. She consoled the strikeouts and misses which were far too common. Even if I wasn’t the greatest on the field, I was to her and that’s all that mattered.
Mom passed from this world in 2008, leaving a void that can never be filled. Never again will I know the adulation of my greatest fan and my greatest coach. Mom “retired” with only one victory: me. It was hard-earned and required a lifetime of dedication. That victory is more precious than any Super Bowl or World Series. It is her legacy in me. I never knew what I was capable of until my mom taught me. Ask any great coach. They’ll tell you that’s the whole point of the games.
So here’s to you, Coach. Thanks for all you taught me and for never wavering in your confidence. I’m thinking if you this Mother’s Day and everyday.